Fast Facts

Population:
1,384,000
Capital:
Libreville; 611,000
Area:
267,667 square kilometers (103,347 square miles)
Language:
French, Fang, Myene, Nzebi, Bapounou/Eschira, Bandjabi
Religion:
Christian, indigenous beliefs
Currency:
CFA franc
Life Expectancy:
59
GDP per Capita:
U.S. $6,500
Literacy Percent:
63
Flag: Gabon
Map: Gabon

Gabon sits on the Equator in western Africa. Oil, timber, and manganese earn this thinly settled republic one of the highest per capita incomes in Africa. However, the income is largely based on oil money going to a few—most live by subsistence farming. France gained control starting in 1839, and Libreville (Free Town), Gabon's capital, got its name when French forces freed slaves there in 1849. With independence in 1960, it functioned mostly as a one-party state until 1991, when a new constitution brought multiparty democracy. In 2002 the country created 13 new national parks—some 11 percent of Gabon's area—to protect its forests and wildlife from logging.

ECONOMY

  • Industry: Petroleum extraction and refining, manganese and gold mining, chemicals
  • Agriculture: Cacao, coffee, sugar, palm oil; cattle; okoume (a tropical softwood); fish
  • Exports: Crude oil, timber, manganese, uranium

—Text From National Geographic Atlas of the World, Eighth Edition

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